Coppinger sent to Brewers

Minor will sub for Ripken

O's longtime project `excited'

Molina is demoted

Bones back

July 17, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

A flurry of roster activity following last night's game left the Orioles temporarily with 11 pitchers and Rocky Coppinger with his long-awaited passport out of Baltimore.

In what is likely the opening salvo in two weeks of hectic turnover, the Orioles traded their star-crossed pitcher to the Milwaukee Brewers last night for a player to be determined while recalling third baseman Ryan Minor from Triple-A Rochester and activating middle reliever Ricky Bones from the disabled list.

To make room for Bones, rookie Gabe Molina was optioned to Rochester. Molina has appeared in nine games for the Orioles, going 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA and a fleeting opportunity as closer.

"I think Rocky needed a change and we were happy with the situation that came up," said manager Ray Miller, a frequent sparring partner with Coppinger the last three years. "It gives Rocky the chance to get a clean start somewhere else. I wish him the best."

Coppinger, a 10-game winner as a rookie in 1996 but an organizational problem child since, repeatedly pressed for a trade the last several years as he endured shoulder and elbow surgery in 1997 and subsequently shuttled between Rochester and Baltimore as well as starting and relief.

The Orioles attempted to option him to Rochester June 25 only to have the move voided because of botched paperwork. Coppinger blasted Miller again for lacking faith in him, and his days with the team were finally numbered.

"This is a good move for me. It's a chance for me to turn the page and go on with my career. It's a great situation. It's a different league, a different city and different people.

"I'm excited. Rumor has it I'll be a starting pitcher. That's what I do. I'm not a reliever," Coppinger said.

Minor, leading Rochester with 18 home runs, 44 runs scored and 106 strikeouts while batting .244, will play third base while the club determines if Cal Ripken needs to be placed on the disabled list.

Ripken's injured right wrist was re-examined last night by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs. The Orioles have so far downplayed a possible fracture, but Ripken conceded he finds hitting to be impossible.

Should Ripken go on the disabled list for a second time this season, general manager Frank Wren said it is likely a 12th pitcher would be restored to the team's roster.

Bones, placed on the disabled list with "arm fatigue" July 2, said rest has revitalized him. Bones is 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA, largely because of a horrific June.

"I feel fine," Bones said. "I'm ready to go."

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